James Stanley ‘Stan’ Robinson’s endeavours with friends to find somewhere to tinker and improve their shooting skills helped create the legacy that’s the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia as we know it today. The founding member of both the SSAA Queensland and SSAA National bodies passed away on December 6 and will be remembered fondly for his contribution to the shooting fraternity.
The SSAA National Life Member started a private rifle range in 1955 behind a pineapple farm in the outer Brisbane suburb of Strathpine with fellow shooters George Watson and Winston Coates. It was said the pineapple grower appreciated his new neighbours as their noise deterred crows from damaging his crops.
Two years later, after seeking guidance from the newly-formed SSAA New South Wales body, the now growing group of Queensland shooters held their first meetings with a view to creating their own state organisation and Stan was elected to the role of SSAA Qld-Vice President which he held for many years. He also filled the position of Chief Range Officer for some time and Stan’s wife Fay was also involved from the early days, forming a part of the inaugural women’s auxiliary for SSAA Qld.
Stan was actively involved while the SSAA Belmont Range was constructed and was well known for devising novelty shoots such as balloons on a string in the wind, shotguns aimed at crow targets and crow targets being shot at undisclosed distances offhand before eventually taking on the more specialised role of catering to the muzzleloading discipline. This was when the ‘charcoal burners’ group was formed with Cedric Zarhoff, Deanna (Billy) Davidson, Norm and Dennis Hughes, Ted and Pat Horsburgh, Ted Kanuer, John Bradbury and Stan.
A rise in the popularity of shooting sports in the early 1960s and subsequent expansion of the SSAA into other states brought about the concept of forming a national body and Stan was among the group at the first national meeting when he wrote the following: “The weekend of the 18th to 19th August will remain in the minds of all delegates to the Federation Conference in Brisbane where a National Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia came into being. It was a turning point in the stature of the sporting shooter. Delegates came from NSW, Victoria and Queensland and were of such like minds that most subjects of a potentially controversial nature were quickly disposed of smoothly with minimal discord.” Excerpt: J.S Robinson – A Concise History of the Queensland SSAA 1957 to 1964.
He was initially named as the ongoing delegate to SSAA National for Queensland and was later elected to the role of National Secretary. Meanwhile, SSAA Qld was expanding regionally and within the greater Brisbane area and, as a result, his workload was growing as a SSAA Qld executive member and Stan opted to reduce his state-level workload and focus on his contributions to the national association.
In 1962 the National Journal was launched then the first SSAA National Annual General Meeting was held on September 21, 1963 where Stan was elected to the role of Vice-President. He graced the cover of the National Journal in 1964 with his favourite 7mm x 62mm Sharp and Hart rifle with bishop stock and six-power nickel sight.
In addition to target shooting, Stan was an avid hunter and was known for spinning yarns of his latest adventures. The Easter SSAA National meeting of 1964 was one of those events which fuelled
Stan’s tales, with pea-soup fog at Melbourne airport preventing the Queensland delegates making it to the meeting by plane. Their ensuing efforts to make it to the meeting via Sydney were retold in detail.
In 1964 Stan stepped away from SSAA executive roles and remained a private member of the Association, being awarded life membership of SSAA National in 1995 in recognition of his contributions at both state and national level. In 1998, Stan produced a document detailing the history of SSAA Qld using meeting minutes, extracts from the Queensland Magazine, National Journal and memories from original members. SSAA National thanks Stan’s family for permission to use this document to assist in the writing of this article.